Karen Beaumont is a New York Times bestselling author of many picture books for children. She is the recipient of 3 American Library Association Notable Book Awards, a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award, and many state “Children’s Choice” awards. She currently resides in Northern California.
Here’s Karen’s story in her own words...
Welcome! It’s a pleasure to have you as my guest, and a joy to share my passion with you.
I love my job! I have worked doggedly for the privilege of being a children’s author. Not for fame. Nor fortune. Nor any other ego-based pursuit. Through my books and author presentations, I have an opportunity to contribute positively to children's lives. To educate. Enlighten. Entertain. I strive to reinforce early literacy skills, inspire self-esteem, compassion, creativity, and, of course, a few giggles along the way. I encourage children to “follow their passion” and never, ever, EVER give up on their dreams. With a clear vision, lots of hard work, and sheer determination, they, too, can turn their dreams into reality.
My fascination with words began when I was a little girl growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. My dad, who later became a PhD reading specialist, taught me to spell the biggest word in the dictionary: Antidisestablishmentarianism. I remember writing it on the blackboard in kindergarten. I had no clue what it meant. But how I delighted in the enormity of that word! Although I am bigger now, and the words I use much smaller, my passion for language remains the same.
It was my first-grade teacher who inspired my love affair with writing. She would hang pictures on the wall and ask the class to write stories about them. How I loved making up stories! For me, it was like being turned loose on a giant imaginary playground! I remember being invited to read one of my stories in front of the PTA. It was about Sally, a little girl who painted herself and her dog with red lipstick. I'll never forget the jittery joy of that moment!
I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up. But I soon discovered that I couldn't stand the sight of blood. Or needles. So I decided to become a jockey instead. I was crazy about horses and loved to ride. But by third grade, I had grown too tall to be a jockey. So I decided to become a teacher. Teachers can be tall. And lucky for me, writers can be tall, too!
My family soon moved to a rustic, five-acre “wonderland” in Gold Beach, Oregon, which we shared with quite a menagerie: horses, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, a goat, guinea pig, rat, turtle, and even a baby raccoon named Bandit. Many of my books reflect the country flavor of this humble, down-to-earth, sensory-rich experience in Gold Beach.
In college, my love of language led me to Spain for a Jr. Year Abroad program, and later, after graduation, to France for another year of study on a Rotary International Graduate Scholarship. It was there, overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean, that I seriously considered becoming a writer. I could live anywhere in the world, I reasoned, as long as I had a pen, some paper, and my brain (which I try to keep with me at all times!).
After completing my education, I returned to California and got married. My daughters, Nicolyn and Christina, were my inspiration to begin writing children’s books. When they were little, we hauled armloads of picture books home from the library, and I would read to my girls each night before they went to bed. After they were all tucked in, I would write, often until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.
I have directed and taught in a number of literacy programs for children, including FIRST 5, Even Start, and Migrant Education. I have also taught ESL (English as a Second Language), GED, and High School Diploma at a local adult school; and Senior Adult Exercise classes at area convalescent hospitals and retirement inns.
Juggling family, various teaching positions, and writing wasn’t easy, especially after I became a single mom. For over six years, I wrote and submitted my manuscripts to publishers. And collected rejection slips. LOTS of them! It was frustrating beyond words. But I refused to give up. I still have a hand-written note from my childhood favorite, Dr. Seuss, who was kind enough to reply to a birthday card I had sent him. On Cat in the Hat stationery, he wrote: “About rejections: You should feel happy to know your first book will never be rejected more than mine was. Mine set up a world’s record of 27 trips to different publishing houses before being finally accepted. May your trip be much, much more gentle.” Unfortunately, it was not! I collected over 135 rejections on various manuscripts before my first book, Louella Mae, She’s Run Away! was accepted in 1994.
I have published many books since then, some of which have received numerous awards. But the honor that is most meaningful to me, given to Move Over, Rover! in 2007, is the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award, named after the inimitable Dr. Seuss.
I want to thank everyone who has encouraged me along the way: my family, friends, agent, editors, and especially my readers. Your support enables me to continue to share my passion with children around the world. And for that, I will always be deeply grateful.